Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has overseen an overhaul of Manchester United’s recruitment policy. Gone are the days where long-term contracts were given to players without a desire to play for the club.
Alexis Sanchez was immediately dismissed by the Norwegian manager upon his arrival and so too was Romelu Lukaku, among many other regulars under Jose Mourinho. Marouane Fellaini, Matteo Darmian, and Chris Smalling also left within Solskjaer’s first seven months.
Signings under Solskjaer have been smart and most have worked to their purpose. Here, we rank all of the signings made by the former striker. Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri have been excluded due to their lack of first-team football since joining. All transfer fees are according to Transfermarkt.
Daniel James (2019, £16.02m)
Signed in 2019 and was probably given more responsibility than expected. James immediately became a first-team regular and considering the circumstances and his age, he did reasonably well throughout. Sold for a profit in 2021.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (2019, £49.5m)
Since his arrival in 2019, Wan-Bissaka has developed quite quickly. He’s still not the finished product but very much an impressive signing. At 23, he still has plenty of time to become the complete full-back.
Harry Maguire (2019, £78.3m)
Probably the best captain United have had since Nemanja Vidic suffered that awful knee injury in Basel. Maguire endured a tough spell last year but came out of it quickly and has emerged as one of Solskjaer’s most important players.
Bruno Fernandes (2020, £56.7m)
In terms of value for money, it doesn’t get much better than this. Fernandes’ arrival into the Premier League was heavily scrutinised but not only did he set the league alight, but the Portugal international also is one of the best players in the world and Manchester United’s talisman. Crucially, the 26-year-old came to the club when Solskjaer’s side was struggling and their fortunes instantly changed for the better.
Odion Ighalo (2020, 12-month loan)
The Nigerian forward had previously impressed in the Premier League with Watford but with many players, a move to China is usually an admission of a regressing career. Solskjaer needed a striker halfway through the 19/20 season and on deadline day, Ighalo was seen as the best choice. In truth, he did quite well considering he didn’t start a single Premier League game.
Donny van de Beek (2020, £35.1m)
Probably the most disappointing acquisition so far. Expectations were high when he left Erik ten Hag’s free-flowing Ajax side to join United but he has been restricted to just four league starts in his first 12 months in England. The Dutchman will be hoping for an improved second term but so far, it’s been disappointing.
Edinson Cavani (2020, free transfer)
Seen as a panic signing on deadline day last year, Cavani joined the club the day after United’s calamitous 6-1 loss to Tottenham. The Uruguay international endured a torrid first couple of months due to fitness issues and an absurd ban from the FA. But after the turn of the year, Cavani quickly became a fan-favourite and ended the campaign as United’s most prominent goalscorer.
He was rewarded with a new 12-month contract as he eyes to see out his European career at Old Trafford. So far, he has exceeded expectations.
Alex Telles (2020, £13.5m)
When he signed, also on deadline day in 2020, Telles was expected to replace Luke Shaw as United’s first-choice left-back. Instead, he only really featured when Shaw was injured. To be fair, replacing Shaw at this stage will be nearly impossible and although he came with a fine pedigree, the Brazil international has been underwhelming.
Tom Heaton (2021, free transfer)
The first of two homecomings this summer and it certainly wasn’t the high-profile one. Heaton is unlikely to feature in the Premier League for United but could have a strong impact behind closed doors.
Jadon Sancho (2021, £76.5m)
Finally, after nearly two years of interest, Sancho signed for Manchester United this summer. The 21-year-old has been one of the hottest properties in Europe for several years and in July, he signed a five-year deal at United. Sancho has only started one game so far but if his spell at Dortmund is anything to go by, there is a 100% chance he blows the competition out of the water in the Premier League. Rating new signings is difficult but I can confidently say that Sancho is going to succeed.
Raphael Varane (2021, £36m)
The four-time Champions League winner was made to play for a club like Manchester United and this summer, he finally followed the footsteps of his childhood idol Rio Ferdinand. Varane was excruciatingly close to joining the club in 2011 but a late swoop saw him join Real Madrid instead.
Varane has featured just once since his move but with his experience, there is little scope for failure after a decorated career – he is the perfect partner for Harry Maguire.
Cristiano Ronaldo (2021, £13.5m)
Sancho and Varane are both signings with the long-term in mind, whereas Ronaldo is joining to win immediately. At 36, he is still a potent goalscorer. Last season, he finished the season as Serie A’s top scorer and he recently became the all-time leading goalscorer in men’s international football.
The superstar forward is showing no signs of slowing up and amid concerns over Cavani’s fitness, he will slot straight into Solskjaer’s starting team. His arrival comes with almost no downside to the Norwegian manager and the trumping of Manchester City in the 11th hour makes his homecoming even sweeter. A nailed on success.